Funeral channel to cater to an elderly TV audience

26th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 July 2007, Hamburg (dpa) - Plans have been announced for the world's first death- and funeral-related TV channel in Germany, a nation with one of the lowest birth rates in the world and with a rapidly ageing population.

25 July 2007

Hamburg (dpa) - Plans have been announced for the world's first death- and funeral-related TV channel in Germany, a nation with one of the lowest birth rates in the world and with a rapidly ageing population.

While other broadcasters vie for young viewers, the new channel will cater to the terminally ill and the elderly, a growing niche market which has been utterly overlooked by media analysts in the past, according to the new network's sponsors - Germany's undertakers.

The Eos channel, named for the Greek goddess who opened the gates of heaven with "rosy fingers of dawn" so that Helios could ride his chariot across the sky every day, is the brainchild of the German Funeral Directors Association.

Advertising revenues will come from on-air obituaries and death notices, which will permit the departed to be memorialized before a national TV audience in digital broadcast quality. Friends and relatives unable to attend funeral services can nonetheless take part by means of interactive digital TV on internet or via satellite.

The channel will air in-depth reports aimed at clearing away much of the mystery and taboos surrounding death and dying - and surrounding the making of funeral arrangements.

Reports will delve into such topics as how to choose a funeral plot and whether zinc-lined caskets are really best in this ecologically minded age. Also, which air-pollution regulations need to be taken into account when planning for a scattering of ashes?

The latest trends in planning that truly unique funeral or graveside service will also be explored, according to Kerstin Gernig, spokeswoman for the German Funeral Directors Association in Dusseldorf.

"There are lots of topics which the mainstream media woefully neglect," Gernig said in a newspaper interview. "These are issues which are vitally relevant for older people."

She said the channel will also explore the issues of assisted living, nursing-home care, hostels for the terminally ill and the debate over assisted death in addition to consumer-oriented reports on bureaucratic and legal requirements after a person dies.

"Anyone who has ever experienced a death in the family knows how ill-equipped most people are to cope with all the arrangements in a time of distraught grief," Gernig said.

"We want to help make this traumatic time a bit less onerous and frightening for people," she added.

Announcement of the new channel comes amidst alarming signs that Germans are dying out. The nation's population, now at 80 million, is expected to decline to 60 million by 2050.

Germany now has the lowest birth rate in Europe with 8.5 births per 1,000 inhabitants, while in Britain it is 12, France 12.7, the Netherlands 11.9 and Ireland 15.2.

Leading economists predict that, as the proportion of elderly Germans rises in contrast to the proportion of young Germans, Europe's biggest nation faces the prospect of reduced growth, economic decline and a collapse in social services.

"We are reaching a critical point," Michael Huether, the head of Cologne's economics institute, told Die Welt newspaper.

"The number of births now determines what happens in the next decade-and-a-half to two decades. You can't revise it afterwards. The availability of human capital will get worse, and act as a brake on growth," Huether added.

Other experts are even more blunt and say Germans are dying out.

"We are a nation that is shrinking," says Gisela Erler, founder of a Berlin-based private company that acts as a go-between consultant for women and their employers.

"Perhaps some people will be happy about this, but it is true that the German people will become extinct if we don't deal with this problem."

DPA

Subject: German news

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